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@POTUS Twitter Must be Used Responsibly

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In today’s world, it is virtually impossible to escape the ever-growing reach of social media. Since the 2012 election, sites like Facebook and Twitter have proven that they are a new driving force when it comes to politicians connecting with a modern audience. Back when he was running for president, Obama showed the world the power of social media platforms and used the Internet to sway the election in his favor. During his second term in office, he demonstrated masterful use of the newest platform for today’s voters: Twitter.

These days, it’s not uncommon to see a Twitter page for everyone from your favorite celebrity to your county police department. Politicians large and small have also taken to the site, navigating the tricky world of trending hashtags, likes, and retweets to get their voices heard while confined to Twitter’s skimpy 140 character limit. When politicians condense their 20 page outline into a quick, easily digestible bite for Twitter users to inhale, things can get a little messy.

Nevertheless, politicians find ways to be effective online, and even government organizations have jumped onto the social media bandwagon. Countless news outlets and police departments can now spout short headlines and general announcements to the public in a way they can be sure to reach them.

Another organization, however, has taken to Twitter ever since the Obama administration: the United States Government.

Known as @POTUS, the Twitter handle for the President of the United States was passed down from Obama to Trump following the 2016 election, along with @FLOTUS for the first lady. Although there are clear benefits to something like a fire station being able to send out a quick couple of sentences to warn people of immediate danger, what could the President have to say in 140 characters or less?

Let’s see.

Through his skillful use of social media, Obama set an example of success for the presidential Twitter: be professional, have class and be mature, and acknowledge major events in a way that will not be misunderstood as major policy changes. Obama preserved his reputation when it came to Twitter. He was low key and official, with minor slip-ups dealt with calmly and politely.

The problem comes when we see the next user of the “POTUS” handle beginning to flex his digital muscles. Regardless of political views, anyone can see that our current president does not have quite the talent for tweeting that his predecessor possessed.

To demonstrate, let’s look at a few infamous tweets from the man himself:

(Note: @POTUS often retweets the president’s alternate account, @RealDonaldTrump. Although these were not originally posted on the @POTUS account, this is in fact Trump retweeting himself.)

Clearly, Trump does not possess the tactfulness of Obama. Although it may have slid by if tweeted by someone with any other occupation, it is unbecoming of the President of the United States to literally whine to his followers about how hard he works and how he’s underappreciated. If Trump wants to improve his image, he needs to cut the whining out of his daily Twitter diet.

Calling NFL games “boring” is not the president’s place. Trump did have legitimate interest in the issue over the protest of the national anthem, but commenting on whether or not he found the football games entertaining is completely irrelevant. When he was a filthy rich millionare, Trump could afford to throw his opinion around all he wanted, but he has to realize that he represents the whole nation now — his words carry infinitely more weight than a real estate mogul. (Not to mention that he was just flat out wrong about the ratings. A president has an obligation to be accurate and responsible when addressing his people.)

 

 

This tweet is perhaps the biggest mistake the President has made when it comes to social media. Announcing what sounded like a major (and very controversial) shift in policy in a series of three consecutive tweets without even the knowledge of his own government is totally improper by any standard. This revelation that seemingly came out of nowhere shocked the world and caused great distress in the lives of many. This is no regular celebrity update; Trump’s words have real power and lasting consequences for America, and it is his duty to use that power to communicate in a responsible way.

Confusing, complaining, and bitter messages are typical enough for any teen Twitter user, but hardly what one would expect from the man in charge of one of the world’s most powerful countries.

@POTUS is a powerful tool. It is a way for the president to speak directly to the people and a way for people to speak directly to him. To a president, it should not be a place to blow off steam or to cry for attention. Political opinion aside, a platform like Twitter is certainly unsuited to announce major policy out of the blue.

This isn’t a question of who is the better president. Obama used Twitter like a professional should. Trump is using it to vent and complain. It is simply inappropriate of a world leader to act in such a way. As head of the nation, Trump has a responsibility to represent the American people and act with dignity and respect, both online and offline.

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@POTUS Twitter Must be Used Responsibly